Andhra Pradesh: Future of INS Viraat uncertain

Speculation rife that it may be sold for scrap like INS Vikrant.

Visakhapatnam: Uncertainty dogs the proposal to convert Indian Naval Ship (INS) Viraat into a floating luxury hotel and museum in Vizag coast as the Andhra Pradesh government is yet to finalise the project.

With March 6 being fixed as the decommissioning date for 55-year-old aircraft carrier INS Viraat in Mumbai, the proposal by the AP government to convert it into a floating luxury hotel is yet to take any concrete shape.

Speculations are rife that INS Viraat may be sold for scrap like INS Vikrant. In a bid to make Vizag is tourism destination in AP, Chief Minister Nara Chandrababu Naidu had said they wanted to convert INS Viraat as a floating luxury hotel, to be berthed in Vizag coast.

Last month, the AP Tourism Development Corporation (APTDC), led by principal secretary N. Srikanth, had inspected the vessel for feasibility. Interestingly, the Visakhapatanam Urban Development Authority (VUDA) had made a proposal to the government to make INS Viraat township in 200 acres of land near Yarada coast in Vizag city at an estimated cost of Rs 1,000 crore, including around 50 per cent share from private agencies, for a public private partnership (PPP) mode.

But, nothing has been done concretely and no one knew the future of the project, an APTDC senior officer said. Sources said VUDA and APTDC were chalking out plans to suggest the state government to seek Indian Navy’s support to develop INS Viraat as a museum on the lines of INS Kursura Submarine Museum.

The Indian Navy has geared up for decommissioning of the vessel in a grand farewell ceremony on March 6 by inviting Chief of Royal British Navy Admiral Sir Philip Jones and officials, who were associated with the vessel when it served as HMS Hermes before it was given to Indian Navy. The AP government is not so serious about the project, but is making several claims, an APTDC officer said on condition of anonymity.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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